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1 review, 26 user ratings

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Never Say Never Again
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by Jack Sommersby

"A Banal Bond Entry"
2 stars

Yes, Sean Connery returns as James Bond, but you'll wish it were in a far more creative venture than this unmemorable botch.

In Peter Hyams's outstanding sci-fi thriller Outland, Sean Connery delivered a career-best performance as a federal marshal combating a ring of drug criminals on a remote ore-mining outpost on Saturn's third moon. His was not the most challenging of roles, but Connery infused it with as much truth and internal tension as it could hold; and with Hyams's superb craftsmanship the movie was a first-rate entertainment that managed to overcome its contextual hurdles. Two years later there's the mediocre Never Say Never Again, with Connery reprising his role as the British super-spy James Bond for the first time in twelve years, and it pales by comparison to Outland and many in the Bond series before it. With a peppered-gray toupee and impressive lithe physique, Connery slips into character with the effortless ease and confidence of the born thespian he is, and his stylish demeanor and witty way with a line keep us consistently interested in his Bond, who locks horns with the megalomaniacal madman Maximilian Drago (Klaus Maria Brandauer), who's blackmailing world leaders with the threatened use of two nuclear bombs he's managed to steal from the U.S.'s Air Force jets. Unfortunately, the movie has neither the imagination nor verve of the extraordinary Roger Moore Bond adventure Octopussy released just a few months prior -- it's weak, tired stuff, with so many dead scenes and zero momentum that you're left running Better Moments Past from superior Bond pictures through your head. The plot itself is incidental, of course, as is usually the case in this series, but at least in the superior entries you're at least aware there is one, whereas with Never Say Never Again Bond keeps coasting from one happenstance to another without any of it actually coming to anything. Correlating Connery's revival of the character with Bond's brief stint at a physical rehabilitation center ordered by his martinet of a boss M. (Edward Fox), things are already overly schematic; and that Bond's capabilities in no way shape or form are strengthened by his stay at the facility only adds to the banality of it. There are the romantic interests in the luscious forms of Fatima Bush (Barbara Carrera) and Domino Petachi (Kim Basinger), but since both actresses are zeros in both the dramatic and erotic departments, this area is a wash. Felix Leiter, a CIA ally of Bond's, makes a return, but the fine black actor Bernie Casey isn't given nearly enough to do; as for the special-gadgets whiz Q, he falls short in the creativity department this time around with only a high-explosive-projectile fountain pen and laser-beam wristwatch as part of Bond's arsenal.

What a disappointment coming from director Irvin Kershner, whose follow-up this is to his smashing The Empire Strikes Back and whose work here never rises above the just-average. Many of us were surprised at George Lucas selecting this largely talking-heads director to helm that much-anticipated Star Wars sequel (though he displayed plenty of verve in the fine serial-killer thriller Eyes of Laura Mars), but Kershner delivered the goods with a bountiful amount of flair; here, working with far fewer special effects and a mainlined story, he comes off as asleep at the wheels, spent, as if he hadn't been able to rejuvenate his creative juices. Occasionally he serves up an astute composition in the widescreen frame, but he doesn't impart much of a lively visual interpretation onto the material despite his collaboration with the masterly Raiders of the Lost Ark cinematographer Douglas Slocombe; and, excepting an okay motorcycle chase through the narrow streets of a downtown North African city, the action sequences are poorly staged and executed. Numerous times throughout Never Say Never Again you're all too aware of the chalk marks it isn't hitting, like an underwater bit where Bond has to ward off a pool of sharks while struggling to get back to the surface with a damaged respirator, or Bond and Drago ridiculously squaring off in a 3-D video-game match with hand controls that deliver an electric shock to the loser, or the final confrontation that also takes place underwater and has been clunkily choreographed. If Never Say Never Again plays out like a retread of the 1965 Thunderball, that's because both are adaptations of the same-title Ian Fleming novel, but where Thunderball was fun, Never Say Never Again merely slumbers along in a mechanical connect-the-dots manner; and unlike Octopussy, which dared to be outrageously enjoyable, it's far too cautious and perfunctory. And what's the point of remaking Thunderball in the first place aside from sating the appetites of those hungering for the original Bond portrayer? Gosh knows Connery's charismatic screen presence is always welcome, and he manages to be suavely commanding even at the age of fifty-two, but he isn't given much to work with. There was some potential with him acting alongside a superb actor like Brandauer, only their confrontations lack the necessary psychological layers -- you never really feel Bond is going up against a worthy antagonist, so nothing in the story really feels at stake. In Outland, Connery's quintessentially righteous hero had dramatic weight even when he was chasing baddies down narrow corridors and fighting them in zero gravity; in this case, Bond is reduced to throwing his urine sample at a foul-tempered heavyweight to usurp him, thus aptly summing up the movie's lowbrow aesthetic level.

Watch "Thunderball" again.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=1220&reviewer=327
originally posted: 04/10/14 21:12:51
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User Comments

3/13/17 Louise (the actual one) This is excellent - has some great touches and Connery is still fab! 4 stars
4/14/14 Richard Brandt Barbara Carrera shoulda nailed his ass, but other than that, okayTHUNDERBALL remake. 4 stars
4/11/14 EDWARD BENITEZ good James Bond film. Connery is always great as Bond. 4 stars
3/28/08 Pamela White Connery is wonderful 5 stars
7/20/07 Sugarfoot Underrated Bond entry, which I still don't understand the mixed reaction to. 5 stars
1/23/07 mr.mike i recall people asleep in the theatre.connery is ok but music is awful. 3 stars
3/12/06 date movie sucks crap 1 stars
3/08/06 Anthony Feor Why oh Why did this have to happen 1 stars
11/20/05 chris not a bad bond movie 4 stars
5/27/05 tony shitiest film. it isnt even a bond. its made by warner brothers.its thunderball over again 1 stars
4/13/05 Phoenix Sean Connery was the best Bond. Glad to see him in this one. Good movie to. 4 stars
4/12/05 Indrid Cold Subpar Bond, but still quite watchable. Bizarre acting and locations. 3 stars
3/28/04 JimmyC Fatima Blush!! 5 stars
3/28/04 john if Connery and Brandauer had been reunited with the Bond team it would have been great 2 stars
5/15/03 Andrew Carden Good Comeback For Connery, but Horrid Film With Basinger Totally Miscast. 2 stars
1/03/03 Zargo fun stuff, let down by many crappy underwater scenes 4 stars
11/11/02 Charles Tatum Sure outBonds "A View to a Kill" 5 stars
2/15/02 murat Good Bond film.Bond,Fatima and Domino. A bit slow.Kershner's only good film after esb 5 stars
1/19/02 David A. Tossing piss in the hitman's face was funny but not too Bond-ish. Fatima was cool! 4 stars
8/06/01 Mr. Hat (formerly Joe Zappa) Sean Connery returns. He's one of the best actors of the '60s, '70s, & '80s. 4 stars
4/03/01 R.W. Welch Like they always say, Sean, you can't go home again. 3 stars
11/04/99 Karahde Khan Maybe my favorite movie, and better than Thunderball. Connery shines. 5 stars
11/17/98 Jules I know, heresy, but this was one of my favourite Bonds... 4 stars
10/26/98 Silent Rob A good update/remake of Thunderball, but completely unnecessary. 3 stars
10/24/98 Patrick888 Terribly disappointing Connery return 2 stars
10/24/98 zeki poor warner brothers remake 1 stars
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  02-Jul-1983 (PG)


  02-Feb-1984 (PG)

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